As I stared out at the snow-covered trees of Boulder, a hard decision ahead of me, I asked myself the age-old question: “What matters most?” In my post-meditative state, clarity came rushing in.
- Connection and belonging to a community with shared values.
- The experience (of life) itself over convenience, cost, or expediency.
- The simplicity of “less is more” in terms of “how many” or “how much.”
- Cultivating presence, peace, and clarity, as opposed to chasing thrill or superficial excitement.
- Courage to do what feels right in the body versus fear of all that could go wrong.
These were not small thoughts, but rather ones universal to all life, especially pertinent to how we carry ourselves as leaders every day. The hard choice I was contemplating was moving our Conscious Leaders Forum from the Mission in downtown San Francisco to a mindful retreat center, called 1440 Multiversity, in the redwoods of Santa Cruz, 55 minutes south of the original location.
It was — and in many ways still remains — a gut-wrenching choice. One that most event planners and media executives (including myself as I’ve organized past events) would strongly advise against, if they’d even allow it as a consideration.
And yet. The feeling. You know the one: in your body, in your heart of hearts. It kept tugging at me. I decided to explore that and listen. Soon after, clarity came.
“All choices are based on love or fear.” It’s a mantra I’ve adopted from my friends and co-founders of MINDBODY, Rick Stollmeyer and Blake Beltram. Once I got clear on wanting to choose love, things began to change. The list of reasons for us to move the event to this incredible venue created such powerful energy it became nearly unavoidable for me and my partner in crime, Conscious Company co-founder Meghan French Dunbar.
The list of new benefits we could offer felt endless:
- A truly immersive experience for leaders to connect and be their authentic selves.
- Inclusiveness: We have over 600 Applications for only 200 slots, and wanted to add more space for additional attendees.
- The gorgeous environment an ancient redwood forest creates for calm and clarity.
- The amazing and healthy food, yoga, meditation, and massage offered right onsite.
- A place for deep and meaningful reflections and true respite.
- The additional space for deep-dive workshops on purpose and mindful leadership.
- Less expensive for attendees than hotel, food, and transport in the city
- Free shuttles from SFO, San Jose airport, and San Francisco (to help the locals).
The list is actually much longer…but you get the point. And so, looking at true-north principles like “less is more,” we actually believe that an even smaller group at 1440 Multiversity would be much much better for deep impact than a larger group in a San Francisco event space with the risk of mediocre impact. Strangely, the change in venue actually has created more buzz and requests for invitation to the event.
The scene at 1440 Multiversity
Imagine, if you will, sitting on fallen redwood, sipping on your coffee as the sun rises and bluejays chirp. The stream running down the hill over 10-foot boulders brought in from Tibet creates a harmonic symphony that lets your mind wander to the big questions of life, leadership, and innermost meaning and fulfillment. You smile, having that moment of gratitude for the wonderful blessings you have; not only be here, in this place, at this moment, but also the incredible opportunity and privilege of being a leader and creating a better world to live in.
You see the small group of leaders you bonded with yesterday reassembling in front of the communal dining hall, and smile again at how warm and connected you feel to these people you only met a day a go. Life becomes easier. Decisions clearer. And your own body feels rested, nourished and complete for the first time in a while.
Your excitement starts to build for the day ahead as you are reminded that your personal hero, Rick Ridgeway, a VP at Patagonia, is giving a talk on “Business Advocacy and Activism” soon, and later that afternoon you’ll join a shared learning circle dedicated to unlocking your company’s highest purpose with a small group of leaders you have already come to admire and enjoy. Your curiosity kicks in to see just what’s in store for the “Cultivating Conscious Leadership” session: are we going to get all woo woo and mushy, or we going to get some real-world tips and tools to be more present and authentic? You stand and begin to walk towards the main hall, past the boulders, and embrace your new friend Steffi with a hug. She smiles, no words exchanged. You both walk into the hall and find some seats towards the front, just in time to hear…
This is the feeling … the way… the emotive immersive experience. This is the why.
We wanted to create something special. The convening of all tribes, from the B Corps and sustainability movements to the social entrepreneurs and cause-based coalitions; from mindful leadership experts to purpose-driven companies. And we wanted to create the space to allow a broader-yet-more-intimate community to be born. To be with your tribe. To be with yourself. To be ready to cultivate the skills and support network to make an impact on the world.
1440 Multiversity is an amazing place. Their theme of “Engage Your Mind, Ignite Your Heart” could not be more values-aligned for the Forum and Conscious Company Media. Words can truly not describe it. The best I can come up with is Esalen meets small university meets retreat center meets state-of-the-art facilities. Just wonderful.
Having a chance to get to know the story of Scott Kriens, a tech mogul turned mindful leader, and why he built this amazing place, is the coup de gras on why we MUST be at 1440 for this, our event’s historic inaugural year, and all years to come.
This is the Place…. 1440 Multiversity.
Now is the Time… to be with your Tribe.
You Are the One…. the Conscious Leader.
Calling all authentic, purpose-driven, conscious leaders…. Come join us.
PS: If this resonates, feel free to email me directly Aaron@ConsciousCoMag.com to connect.
After founding and selling three successful companies in the online marketing space, Aaron Kahlow discovered the power of Zen mindfulness practice and turned his community building and entrepreneurial talents toward conscious leadership and sustainable business. In addition to his former leadership role as Chief Expansion Officer at Conscious Company Media, he is the founder and CEO of Mindful Order of Being, a nonprofit that provides education and support for anyone seeking a better, more purpose-driven way to live. His mission is to help others turn mindfulness into a way of life that brings purpose, meaning, clarity, and greater joy.